Museum Studies Immersion - Curriculum
|Choose three of the following:
Monuments and Memory
Monuments are physical objects that were constructed to help us remember the past, but a deeper analysis reveals that the relationship between monuments and the memories they embody is complex and changes over time. We will tackle the process of memorializing, the monuments that result, and seek greater insight into the arguments these artifacts make about the past, the present, and our place in the world. Lecture 3 (Fall).
America’s National Parks
The National Parks are some of America's most treasured and spectacular landscapes, but even these wild places are the product of historical forces. In this class, we will explore the history of America's National Parks, and use these spaces to unpack the relationship between Americans, their land, and their history. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Oral history collects memories and personal commentaries of historical significance through recorded interviews. There are few opportunities for historical research that are more satisfying or more challenging than oral history. In this class, we will learn about oral history methods, techniques, and ethics. We will read, listen to, and watch some of the finest examples of the genre. Then we will go out and add to the world's understanding of its past by conducting oral histories of our own. For their final project in this course, students will work in teams to produce a podcast based on their own interview(s). Lecture 3 (Fall).
Museums and History
Many more people learn history from museums than from textbooks. What is it that is so special about encountering the real thing in a museum? Why are Dorothy's Ruby Slippers the most visited artifact in the National Museum of American History? Do history museums themselves have an important history? Join us as we investigate the connections between our history, our museums, and the material artifacts that tell historical stories. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Introduction to Museums
This course examines the history, theory, and practice of museums by situating them as social institutions emerging within their broader historical and cultural contexts, from their origins in the mouseion of the classical era and Renaissance cabinets of curiosities to the modern era’s World’s Fairs and museums of today. The evolution and range of museum functions are addressed. Building on these foundations, the following types of museums and institutions are explored: art and design, natural history, anthropology, science, and history museums, as well as historic houses and sites, botanical gardens, and zoos. In studying the histories and functions of museums through the lenses of social institutions, the course highlights the evolution of museums institutionally, ideologically, and experientially. The course considers the operations of museums, governance, and the professional ethics and legal constraints that affect museum professionals; examines museums and their practices through the perspectives of colonialism and de-colonialization, nationalism, class, gender, ethnicity, anti-racism, and community; and includes field trips to local institutions and on-campus site visits throughout the semester. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Introduction to Public History
Public history is using the research-based methods and techniques of historians to conduct historical work in the public sphere. If you've gone to a museum, conducted an oral history, researched your old house, or learned from an interpreter at a park or historic site, you've seen public history in action. This course will introduce students to the wide variety of careers in public history, and will examine the challenges and opportunities that come with doing history in, with, and for the public. Lecture 3 (Spring).
History & Theory of Exhibitions
Exhibitions are organized around a creative curatorial premise, a statement that articulates an idea allowing for the selection of work included in an exhibition. This course begins with an overview of exhibition history, starting with the transformation of the Louvre into the first public art museum following the French Revolution, where art history, a discipline developed in the 19th century, was enlisted to organize exhibitions. The class analyzes how art and exhibitions represent the cultural contexts in which they are created. The course examines the proliferation of types of exhibitions that accompanies modernism, up to the present, paying close attention to the curatorial premise animating the exhibitions. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Museums & the Digital Age
The digital revolution has profoundly influenced how we think about the world around us. Information once available only to experts is now accessible digitally to a much broader audience. Museums, archives, and libraries have adapted to this democratization of knowledge and decentralization of access in myriad ways. As visitors to museums—whether online or onsite—each of us is part of the creation, consumption, and reception of digital information. What does this mean for museums and for us as audiences and consumers of such information? How has the combination of digital technology and social media increased visitors’ abilities for interaction with cultural institutions, their collections, and other visitors? This course will examine the history and evolution of museum practices as they adapt to new technologies and rethink traditional museum practices. The course has no pre-requisite and is open to students of all majors. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Introduction to Digital Cultural Heritage
Cultural heritage is a fluid term that applies broadly to the creation, protection, and preservation of material objects and intangible practices for future generations. This course examines the concepts associated with tangible, intangible, and natural cultural heritage with a global outlook. Through readings, discussion, and projects, the course explores the various forms that cultural heritage takes and frames them in terms of digital creation, consumption, and preservation. Course content may be site-specific. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Topics in Museum Studies: Art, Design & Exhibition Projects
This variable topic course examines one or more methods, concepts, or theories of museum studies and its intersection with art, craft, and design. Whether focusing on the content of collections (i.e., fine art, craft, design, or other disciplines) or the conceptual development of displays informed by a curatorial premise informed by methods, concepts, and theories of museum studies, the course frames art and design collections in relation to exhibition projects. The course centers themes, figures, movements, or issues associated with artistic practice, and/or the historical, cultural, and theoretical questions of exhibitions and display. The topic for the course is chosen by the instructor, announced in the course subtitle, and developed in the syllabus, particularly through the readings and deliverables. The course can be taken multiple times provided that the topic is different. The artistic framing for these topics may center one or both of the following areas of inquiry: art, craft, and design as the subject of the course (i.e., focusing on the collections held by RIT at the Dyer Arts Center, Cary Graphic Art Collection, and Vignelli Center for Design Studies) and/or creative approaches to deliverables, from ideation to presentation in one of the gallery spaces at RIT, or in another exhibition space (including online). Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Topics in Museum Studies: Museums and Society
This variable topic course examines one or more methods, concepts, or theories of museum studies as a framing for understanding of the diversity of human cultures today and over time. Whether focusing on the content of collections (i.e., cultural heritage, undocumented migration, wrongful imprisonment, de-colonization) or the conceptual development of displays informed by a curatorial premise informed by methods, concepts, and theories of museum studies, the course examines topics of social relevance in relation to exhibition projects. The course centers themes, figures, movements, or issues of contemporary society, and/or the historical, cultural, and theoretical questions of exhibitions and display. The topic for the course is chosen by the instructor, announced in the course subtitle, and developed in the syllabus, particularly through the readings and deliverables. The course can be taken multiple times provided that the topic is different. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Topics in Archives, Museums, and Community Collections
Topics courses offer the opportunity to build knowledge specific to events, issues, and opportunities unique to archives, museums, and collecting institutions. Topics and methods vary from term to term, though each offering features an introduction to a concept, methodology, institution, or other subfield of study within museum studies or public history. Students develop theoretical and experiential knowledge of the topic under investigation while fostering opportunities to respond to recent events or to partner with local organizations and institutions. Students also create deliverables appropriate to the experience. The topic will be announced prior to the course offering. The course may be repeated for credit since topics will normally vary from semester to semester. Lecture (Fall or Spring).
Museum Education & Interpretation
This course introduces students to the educational mission of the museum and to the museum’s role in educating citizens for participation in a democratic, pluralistic society. As sites of informal learning, museums have an educational impact on our lives beyond our formal schooling. The course focuses on a wide range of educational activities within museums that address visitors of all ages as individuals and as members of a democratic society, and helps to foster in them a sense of community, civic responsibility, tolerance for multiple viewpoints, and lifelong love of learning. The course examines the institutional shift from a fixed, scholarly approach to exhibiting collections to one that embraces the concept of interpretation, where visitors are encouraged to engage in a variety of experiences, make their own connections with objects and other visitors, and ultimately construct their own meanings. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Visitor Engagement & Museum Technologies
All of us, as museum visitors, have the capacity to engage with collections and to create meanings as a result of such interaction. This course considers the history and theory of visitor engagement at museums, galleries, and sites of cultural heritage tourism; examines the import of technology into this history; and articulates the role of visitors as participants who curate their own experiences. Two key questions will be addressed in this course: 1) How does technology provide a platform for contribution, collaboration, co-creation, and co-opting of experiences among all visitors? and 2) Can technology mediate the best possible experience for visitors? The course has no prerequisite and is open to students of all majors. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Tablet to Tablet: A History of Books
From ancient clay and wax tablets, to scrolls and medieval manuscripts, to printed books and iPads, this class examines the history of books from 2300 BCE to the present. Students study books not only as vehicles for texts, but also as physical artifacts that carry with them important evidence of the cultures that produced and read them. Using the Cary Graphic Arts Collection as their research laboratory, students investigate the evolution of books through hands-on interaction with artifacts both ancient and modern, while also pondering what forms future books might take. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Gender and Contemporary Art
This course traces the historical development of women’s activism in the art world from the 1970s to the present. We will interpret how this art activism, which artists and scholars alike have referred to as the feminist art movement, has examined how gender informs the ways art is made, viewed, conceptualized in history and theory, and exhibited in museums and visual culture, in a range of cultural contexts. We will also analyze how current artists, critics, and curators continue to build on this history, in particular how they use the concept of gender intersectionally to develop a variety of new creative practices, theories, modes of exhibition and social engagement. Lecture 3 (Spring).
* Students must complete one course from the "MUSE" discipline and one course from the "HIST" discipline. The third course can be taken from either discipline.